Friday, March 1, 2019
I love my bike. It's right outside, waiting for me to mount up and pedal off to another adventure.
It's true that my biking today is a far cry from when I used to ride 15, 20, 30 miles a trip. Mother Nature, a bad back and wifely concerns have combined to limit me to a modest 3 three-mile jaunt. I have no complaints, however. Any bike riding is wonderful to me.
The day I first soloed on a two-wheeler is firmly etched in my memory book. There is no plaque marking the site and my first solo fell far short of the distance Wilbur and Orville flew at Kitty Hawk. But that day on the side yard at 2403 North 50th Street in The City of Brotherly Love was historic nonetheless. My father, a patient man, held the fender of my rear wheel, gently pushed me, all the while steadying the first few feet of my efforts. (I wonder if you too recall your own moment.) After my father left to go back to the office, I got on my bike, pushed and pedaled to move forward. Better to try things without an audience, plus having a comfortable grassy landing site if things went south.
Success! Joyous success. I ran into the house to tell my mother who promptly telephoned my father at work. I yelled the news. Dad congratulated me, excited himself. It was a big Reilly day all around. Only now, so many decades later do I truly understand how blessed I was. First, in having a bike at all in the midst of The Great Depression, and more important, to have such caring, supportive parents sharing my success. If you've been lucky in this life, and I have, nothing beats having had loving parents.
As for that first two-wheeler of mine, it was a beauty. Fire engine red with fat white-walled tires. I wonder if it still exists somewhere out there short of the scrap metal heap. If so, name the price. I'll be there. My steed today still sports fat tires in keeping with my own body type. It is rusty but reliable. The young women and men who pass by me on the road, which includes virtually everyone, are cyclists of the first order. Most of them are athletes and fitness buffs. They are also friendly and encouraging. They seem to welcome old timers like me even though we are slowpokes, for we too are part of the sport they all love so much.